Sunday, September 2, 2012

Before the Deadliest Catch: Part Two - "Saga of the Deep Sea"

In May 2012 a derelict fishing vessel caught fire and sank in Penn Cove, Washington. This is a continuation of the story from Part 1,  the "back story" of that event and its connection to our family. 

A five page manuscript was found in a 34 page scrapbook containing newspaper clippings heralding the Deep Seas role in finding Japanese and Russian fishing fleets operating very close to Alaska.

And the reason for those contacts.

I scanned Dad's manuscript and present as he titled it, "Saga of the Deep Sea."


Chapter Two


I am not sure why my Dad did what he did. But he left his comfort zone, working on tugboats, and shipped out on a crab processor, the "Deep Sea."

The "Saga," begins in Ballard Washington in January 1960. Here, in his own words, the story of his trip as Chief Engineer up to the Bering Sea. [ ... ] are editors clarifications.

Saga of the Bering Sea
Written by Harry McDonald
© 2012 Robert McDonald

Preparations had been going on for some time, and on January 5th, 1960, the Deep Sea departed Seattle for Port Wakefield, Kodiak Island Alaska.

The Deep Sea, a steel 150 ft. [128 feet] trawler had been built for fishing in Alaska, but had been converted to a King crab processing vessel, where the King crab were received, butchered cooked and frozen.

Crab are captured in a traditional round crab pot.

Fishing boat delivers catch to the Deep Sea.
Crab kept alive until moment of doom - the cooking pot!
Plucked from holding tank and conveyed to the kitchen!
Pete, Kenny and Nick use compressed air to blow crab meat out of legs, and pack in 20# boxes for the freezer.

Wakefield Fisheries, Seattle, beside the Deep Sea, maintained shore installations at Port Wakefield, Seldovia, and Sand Point on Shumagin Island. Arriving at Port Wakefield on January 10th, we at once began unloading supplies and equipment at the freezing plant and taking aboard Aleuts to complete our crew. We departed for Trap Point near Olga Bay where we laid at the dock for 2½ months, processing the King crab.

Deep Sea at Trap Point

Our fishing fleet composed of the fishing vessels Foremost, Jeanette F, Miss Arctic, Dora R and Carl R fished on the Southern side of Kodiak Island, later shifting to Wide Bay, Agrapina Bay, and finally arrived at Kodiak, completing the season. [Some vessels were rigged as trawlers, others used traditional round crab pots.]

Hearing of reports that the Russians were fishing King crab in the Bering Sea, the Company prevailed on the fishermen to fish for another month and this time in the Bering Sea. The fishermen agreed so we sailed from Kodiak, arriving at Sand Point April 3rd, where we picked up the rest of the fleet that would be working with us out of Akutan Harbor.

King crab fishing is done both by Japan and United States in Bristol Bay waters, where studies are being conducted by the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. In the Gulf of Alaska, only United States harvested the giant crabs. It was decided by the Company [Wakefield Fisheries] to investigate the rumors that the Russians were fishing in the Bering Sea so we set out in search for them.

4 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this is very interesting.

Jason Watt said...

Really interestin stuff, Love seeing the old photos of trap point. We have owned it and run our set net operation from there since 1993. Would love to see more photos of the place.

Bryan Keith Nixon said...

Hi, thanks for sharing. My maternal grandfather was Ralph Jones, former Deep Sea skipper and Wakefield VP as well as city manager of Kodiak. The scrapping of the Deep Sea just didn't seem like a fitting end to such a fabled vessel. Ralph was an avid photographer and I am in possession of some of his shots from the Deep Sea during the 50's. I am in the process of scanning and restoring some of them, and will hopefully be able to share them soon.

-Bryan Nixon

Kurt Clark said...

Since I spent the first five years of my life in Sand Point AK, I find this series very interesting. The pictures are wonderful. Thank you for posting them.

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